Family Planning is the practice of controlling the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilisation.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Family Planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through the use of modern and traditional contraceptive methods.
It says the purpose of FP is to enure that couples have the resources needed to complete and achieve their goals and contribute to humanity and development.
FP helps to protect women from any health risks that may occur before, during or after childbirth such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, infections, miscarriage and stillbirth.
There are different types of contraceptives, namely long-acting reversible contraception – the implant or intra uterine device (IUD), hormonal contraception – the pill or the Depo Provera injection, barrier methods – condoms, and emergency contraception.
However, there is a permanent method of contraception called vasectomy and tubal ligation.
The modern methods include female sterilisation, male sterilisation, the IUD, implants, injectables, pill, the male and female condoms, and Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), while traditional methods include rhythm (calendar), withdrawal, and folk methods.
Dr Ejike Oji, the Chairman, Technical Management Committee, Association for the Advancement of Family Planning (AAFP), says Nigeria’s fertility rate is still very high at 5.3 per cent, with a 12 per cent Contraceptive Prevalence rate (CPR).
Oji told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday that the country’s zero unmet needs for family was 20 per cent.
“This means that about 20 per cent of Nigerian women who need family planning cannot access it due to disruptions or stock out of commodities.
“Global fertility rate standard is 2.5 per cent, while Nigeria is at 5.3 per cent, meaning we are far from meeting the set standard.
“FP is one of the great public health achievements of the 20th century; availability of services allows individuals to achieve desired birth spacing and family size, and contribute to improved health outcomes for infants and women.
“Births resulting from unintended pregnancies can have negative consequences, including birth defects and low birth weight. Children from unintended pregnancies are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health during childhood, and have lower education attainment and more behavioral issues in their teen years.”
He said that the negative consequences associated with unintended pregnancies were greater for teen parents and their children “as most of them are between 15 and 19 years, consequently, stopping most girls from finishing school and achieving their dreams.”
Similarly, early fatherhood is associated with lower educational attainment and lower income, while children of teen parents may have lower cognitive attainment.
Even though there are social barriers to the use of family planning services such as cost of services, limited access to publicly funded services, limited access to insurance coverage, family planning clinic locations and hours that are not convenient for clients, many men also have negative opinions to the whole idea.
Apart from that, the lack of awareness of family planning services among hard-to-reach populations, no or limited transportation, inadequate services for men and the lack of youth-friendly services are other social barriers to uptake of Family Planning methods.
Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, the Programme Manager of NINERELA+, who urged couples to embrace FP or child spacing, reiterated the benefits of planning for national development.
He dismissed some religious insinuations against family composition, noting that no religion was against wellbeing and development of families and humanity.
Mr Ikenna Osuoha, a civil servant living in Abuja, also told NAN that “Family Planning is the only way to go in terms of finding lasting solution to poverty, youthful bulge, maternal mortality, under five mortality and economic challenges.”
Osuoha, who described family planning as an opportunity for the woman to decide how many children to procreate and when to have them, noted that “Family planning is necessary in protecting the mother and child.
“Family Planning goes a long way in engendering healthy living for the family.
“I shall always encourage my wife to access the services because it will give us time to plan for the future of our family and children.”
He also urged husbands and fathers to encourage their wives to take up family planning methods to enable them to regain their health and for the family to save money for a prosperous life.
Dr Ibrahim Ngulde, a Gynaecologist at a private hospital in Maiduguri, said FP could be a good measure to regulate the number of children a couple would have.
He added that even though there are different methods, ranging from local to modern ways, couples must visit recognised and registered health facilities for assessment before engaging into the most suitable way for them.
The doctor, who said that religious and cultural injunctions and principles played great roles in uptake of FP in Nigeria and many countries around the world, couples, families, religious and traditional leaders, as well as governments and authorities also have major roles to play.
He noted that if well embraced and implemented accordingly, the financial burden on many families would reduce and future generations would live better lives.
Alhaji Umar Musa, a civil servant in Abuja, who encouraged couples to embrace FP, added that it was the only way to go now.
He explained that “with the current financial situations in Nigeria and in many countries around the world, FP would help families to cut their coats according to their size.
“FP would allow women to regain their strength after childbirth before the next pregnancy. The intervals between pregnancies should be seen as tactics for both women and infants to be strong and healthy.”
Mr Henry Joseph, a businesman living in Abuja, said “FP is a good way for couples to manage the number of children they have.
“If you embrace family planning, you will try and have the number of children you can cater for, based on what you do for a living.
“However, you find out that rich men often times have two or three children, while the poor have more than five children per couple, and are unable to take care of them to live good lives.”
Joseph, who said he is a Christian and a Catholic, explained that religion plays a major role in uptake of FP, noting, however, that “we should at least do things we can justify. We may not have answers to give our creator when we have children that we cannot take care of.”
However, Mr Kabiru Ahmed, a driver living in Abuja, described family planning as anti-reproductive, saying it was an interrogation of God’s mandate to man for procreation.
Ahmed, who said he would never allow his wife to go for family planning, added that “this kind of planning is a weapon to trickle down Africa’s population. It is a trick by the western world to reduce our population now that they realised that there is a lot to gain in demography.”
Malam Bello Isa, an Islamic scholar living in Abuja, also said he would never allow his wives to go for family planning because it is against the injunction of the Almighty.
Isa, who insisted that he would not say much on family planning, noted that he believed the Almighty and creator of all mankind would cater for all humans on earth.(NAN)